Energy harvesting holds great interest for many applications which involve powering of remote devices, portable products or applications that are difficult to power or replace the battery. The energy harvester is either the primary power source or it is used for extending battery life. The non-MEMS solutions have been used for many years in such things as military applications, industrial applications and in remote monitoring for oil and gas industry.
Energy harvesting is a process by which energy is obtained from an external source. These can be solar power, thermal energy, wind energy, kinetic energy or electromagnetic sources. Taking advantage of energy that is otherwise wasted, it is viewed as clean energy in that it does not generate any waste of its own. Making use of ambient energy would enable virtually unlimited operation of an electronic device. The challenge is to scale these technologies down to the small sizes for MEMS. There are MEMS solutions available but these are relatively low volumes and the prices are still very high for many large volume applications.
There are efforts to develop and promote
MEMS based energy harvesters. The goal is to make inroads in existing energy harvesting applications, but also in opening up new markets in such areas as wearable electronics, personal medical devices, consumer electronics, smartphones and automotive.
In its latest report, “MEMS Energy Harvesting: An Early Growing Season” (Report Number MP104-12), Semico Research examines the current state of MEMS Energy Harvesting. Who are the key players at this time? What performance level is currently available from MEMS EH? What are the key applications that can drive the growth of MEMS EH? What do MEMS EH developers need to do to spur growth? How large will the market for MEMS EH be by 2020? The MEMS EH market is very small at this time. However, Semico believes there is high growth potential. The crucial research is being done right now. The seeds are being planted for MEMS energy harvesting.